As the year seems to skip by, rapidly gathering pace, I pinch myself at the thought that it is May already and remind myself of the speed a year seems to swiftly come upon us. As I drive down to Llanidloes in Mid Wales to meet with Peter Thole, the countryside seems fit to burst with hedgerow flowers, green shoots appearing on every grey hanging branch and hawthorn laden with erupting heavy white blossom.
With the sudden change in season comes the sudden change within Environment Wales, Peter Thole after many years of dedicated service to Environment Wales on the Grant Panel is sadly leaving and retiring his position. His seat on the panel will be a difficult one to fill, Peter has brought in a wealth of experience to Environment Wales both through his previous professional horticulture work and his personal interest in gardening and nature, his detailed knowledge of natural history, plants and flowers will also be missed not to mention the humour he brought to the table in the form of jokes and timely anecdotes.
My reason for meeting Peter is twofold; I have arranged to meet with him to discuss the successful renovation of his local village hall in Trallong. He being the secretary on the village hall committee has worked hard to secure funding to allow the hall, built in the 1930’s, to be externally insulated; completely renovated internally and have solar panels fitted onto a new roof. This work has brought a previously cold and under used community building back into the very centre of village life, an important focal point in these times when so many local communities are fragmenting. It is also testament to the tireless work of Peter in securing funding for this and seeing the project through from start to finish.
Through my work with Eco Centre Wales I have many enquiries from village hall groups that currently put up with cold and inadequately insulated community halls, the thought was to learn from Peter some of his secrets of success and maybe pass on some tips to these groups desperate to see their village halls thrive once again.
My second reason for seeing Peter and unbeknownst to him is to present him with an Environment Wales engraved heart made by Ten Green Bottles of recycled glass and a bird box made from reclaimed oak by Pembrokeshire FRAME, both are Environment Wales registered projects. Knowing that he already has several bird boxes and has recently included a nest-camera into one, I thought that it would be a good present for him.
Peter was truly overjoyed with the gifts, his face lit up and he thanked me and the Environment Wales team, remarking that he might return to the panel; stating that the work had been extremely rewarding and would miss the site visits. Peter continues to delight in the wealth of so many interesting registered projects, commenting that it has been a pleasure to watch so many Environment Wales group’s projects and aspirations blossom into success.
Good luck Peter and stay in touch.